30 September 2019

The early years of a child’s life are be the most important and now, new guidelines have suggested that milk and water are mostly the only things children aged five and under should drink.1

A panel of scientists have issued the new nutritional guidelines which suggest children should not be given any drink with sugar or other sweeteners in it.

What children drink at a young age can have a significant impact on their oral health, general health and overall well-being.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes that parents would be wise to follow these guidelines and give their children the best start in life from a dietary perspective.

Dr Carter says: “Water and milk have the benefit of providing everything a growing child needs, without so many of the harmful things that so many other drinks contain.

“Milk is a great source of calcium, protein and several other vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth and development.

“Water is perfect, not just for youngsters, because it isn’t acidic, it has no calories and contains no sugar that can cause so much unnecessary damage to children’s teeth.

“Children absolutely do not need to drink products that are packed with sugar. The damage it can cause to oral health alone is extreme and avoidable. It is the main culprit behind thousands of children in the UK having rotten teeth removed in hospital every year, not to mention high levels of obesity across the country.

“We welcome these new guidelines and hope that as many parents follow them as possible.”

The guidelines have been published by Healthy Drinks Healthy Kids, a project by Healthy Eating Research.  The programme studies strategies for childhood nutrition.

Public Health England report that nine out of ten hospital tooth extractions among young children are due to preventable tooth decay.2

In addition, almost one in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to one in three when they start secondary school.3

Both public health issues have prompted calls for Brits to make changes to their diet, so they have a better chance of avoiding these oral and general health issues.

“We must look after ourselves, our children and make sure their diet reflects this,” adds Dr Carter.

“Poor oral health at a young age can have a major influence on a child’s health, well-being and quality of life in a number of different ways.

“Tooth brushing with a fluoride toothpaste daily is crucial, but it alone is not enough to prevent tooth decay in young children.

“Preventing avoidable issues like tooth decay must involve a positive change in diet and hopefully these new guidelines can help parents make healthier decisions for their children.”

Head to www.dentalhealth.org for more information on oral health for children and making the right dietary choices.


  1. Healthy Drinks Healthy Kids. (2019). Parents – Healthy Drinks. [online] Available at: https://healthydrinkshealthykids.org/parents/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].
  2. UK. (2019). Almost 9 out of 10 child hospital tooth extractions due to decay. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/almost-9-out-of-10-child-hospital-tooth-extractions-due-to-decay [Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].
  3. (2019). About childhood obesity. [online] Available at: https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/key-topics/nutrition-obesity/about-childhood-obesity [Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].